Villas-Boas waits as Tottenham Hotspur chairman calls tune on deals
Andre Villas-Boas might have thought he had encountered some of the most stubborn figures in English football when he was manager of Chelsea last season, but then he was yet to live through a summer transfer window conducted by Daniel Levy, an experience only available to Tottenham Hotspur managers.
It is the month of August and so it follows that Levy is in the midst of tearing up his Spurs squad and rebuilding it all at the same time, as few other clubs do. Players are coming and going, although no one is certain who and for how much – just that it will probably take until midnight a week on Friday for the whole thing to be resolved, and predicting what the squad looks like on 1 September is a fraught business.
The signing of Emmanuel Adebayor last night on a permanent deal from Manchester City, on a contract subsidised by the selling club, is a triumph that eases some of the pressure when it comes to the lack of strikers. But there is still much work to do.
Levy has acted on the recommendation of his manager to move on two players who were once prime examples of Tottenham's policy of prioritising young English signings. Tom Huddlestone, 25, is on his way to Stoke City on loan. Michael Dawson, 29, will move to Queen's Park Rangers for around £8m.
Both bought by Spurs from Championship clubs in January 2005 at the ages of 18 and 21 respectively, they were emblematic of the club's approach at that time.
It is not to say that Spurs have altogether abandoned that policy. Steven Caulker, 20, called to up to the England squad this month, is highly-rated at the club and now has a place among the squad's four first choice centre-backs with Ledley King's retirement and Dawson's imminent departure.
The Spurs bench on Saturday at St James' Park was well-stocked with English youngsters like Kyle Naughton, Harry Kane and Andros Townsend. Whether any are good enough to break through is another matter.
At the same time, the club is clearing out others once considered young, English and promising – the likes of Jermaine Jenas, David Bentley and, on loan, Danny Rose.
The picture is confused once again, but no one could doubt that Levy is in control. Were he still in the Spurs job, Harry Redknapp would have been complaining at every opportunity in the last few weeks at having just one striker – Jermain Defoe – at his disposal.
As it is, Villas-Boas, grateful for the opportunity to manage Spurs, has no other option but to bite his lip. He can only hope that it all comes together at the last moment. That Levy gets his £40m plus fee from Real Madrid for Luka Modric that he has held out for all summer and that there is time then to buy a new first-choice goalkeeper, a left-back as cover for Benoît Assou-Ekotto, at least one more wide player and a striker.
The Portuguese midfielder Joao Moutinho is the key man whom Villas-Boas wants but at £20m is simply not an option. So too striker Fernando Llorente, who has a huge buy-out clause in his Athletic Bilbao contract.
There are doubts over the suitability of Rennes midfielder Yann M'Vila, off-field questions which have given other Premier League clubs reason to pause too.
Looking at their squad as it stands, with Scott Parker still injured and so many others halfway out the door, it is an intriguing situation. Levy got £3m from Norwich City for Sebastien Bassong yesterday and one can but assume he will hold out right to the bitter end for similarly inflated prices.
Spurs absolutely deny that there is or has ever been any interest in the distinctly average Arsenal striker Marouane Chamakh.
Last summer, with the Modric-to-Chelsea row and various other issues hanging over them, Spurs lost their two games in the August transfer window to Manchester United and Manchester City. They might well have done so whatever their status but a draw against both, or one win, would have seem them finish above Arsenal and in the Champions League this season.
As usual, Levy has many plates spinning. At least Spurs had the convenient distraction of chaos at their rivals Arsenal last summer.
This time round you might have thought that they had recognised the season starts with the first fixture, not the close of the transfer window, but this is a club and a chairman who seem to like the adrenaline rush of the last few days.
QPR eye Dawson and Carvalho
Queen's Park Rangers hope to sign Michael Dawson for £8m now he is out of favour at Tottenham – although they fear Spurs may hold out for £10m for the 28-year-old defender – and also retain an interest in the former Chelsea defender Ricardo Carvalho.
Carvalho, 34, is now fifth in the pecking order of defenders at Real Madrid and, with one year left on his contract, could be available for as little as £2m.
Spurs squad: Comings and goings breakdown
Goalkeepers Friedel, Cudicini
For sale Gomes
Wanted Lloris (Lyon)
What do they need? Ideally a new first choice goalkeeper
Right-backs Walker, Naughton
Available on loan Rose
Centre-backs Vertonghen, Gallas, Kaboul, Caulker
For sale Dawson
Sold Bassong (Norwich)
What do they need? A back-up left-back if Rose is sold
Right wing Lennon, Townsend
Central Sandro, Livermore, Parker (currently injured), Van der Vaart, Sigurdsson, Carroll
Wants out Modric (Real Madrid)
For sale Jenas, Bentley
Available on loan Huddlestone
What do they need? Light on both wings beyond first choice Bale and Lennon. Lacking spark in central midfield with Modric going and Parker injured
Strikers Adebayor), Defoe, Kane
Please take him Dos Santos
What do they need? At least two more strikers of good quality